The Festival of the River will return to the Arlington area for it’s 30th year of music, celebration and environmental education on Aug. 10 and 11.
Gates open for the event at 10 a.m. at River Meadows County Park in the Arlington Heights area.
To celebrate the festival’s 30th anniversary, the Stillaguamish Tribe will not charge for parking this year, which is typically the only charge to enter the festival each year.
“This year is completely free, no parking or entrance fee this year,” said Tamara Neuffer, coordinator for the festival, environmental outreach and education specialist for the Stillaguamish Tribe.
There will also be reduced prices on merchandise and the salmon bake.
“We’re really excited about this year, and we’re hoping for big crowds and not a big rainstorm like we had last year,” said Neuffer.
This year’s music will include Lee Brice and Thompson Square on Aug. 10 and Boz Scaggs and War on Aug. 11
Native American culture has also been a part of the event for many years now, including a powwow that brings in Native American dancers from around the region.
“They brought the powwow in and it really blossomed into a multi-cultural event because it’s really how we [non-Natives] celebrate with music and a concert, and also how Native Americans celebrate as well with a powwow,” said Neuffer.
The powwow is great to help cultures connect, she said.
“There are a lot of people that come every year because of the powwow,” said Neuffer.
“I think for a lot of people, this is their first exposure to any kind of Native American culture,” she said.
The event started from an environmental grant to help educate the public on environmental concerns.
It retains that legacy with a strong educational focus.
“This is my eighth year and we’ve always just tried to make it better,” said Neuffer.
In recent years the festival has put all the education activities into one big tent and Neuffer said that people have enjoyed that.
“From an education standpoint we’ve come up with a new model for people to learn about the environment and their local watershed that’s not so intimidating,” she said.
Environmental groups from around the region come to the festival each year to talk about what they do and help people understand their environment.
“We don’t have to go looking for people to come to our festival now,” said Neuffer.
The Stillaguamish Tribe funds the festival each year to give back to their community.
“It’s an expensive event to put on and it’s all from tribal membership,” said Neuffer, “They consider it a gift because they appreciate this community … they take care of their community and I think this is part of that.”
Entrance to the festival should go more quickly this year. “We won’t be taking money so we’ll be able to get people in there faster,” said Neuffer.
However, she asks people to be ready for a wait when leaving the festival. “We only have one real option for an exit, so we tell people just to be patient,” she said.
For more information about the festival go to www.festivaloftheriver.com.